Did you know when your child dies in the hospital, there isn’t a magical door that leads right to your bedroom where you can crawl under the covers and hide from the world?
It is the one detail that still haunts me to this day.
Carmen passed away in my arms, and at some point, it was decided that our goodbyes were sufficient enough to walk away. Forever.
As we peeled back the door separating what felt like holy ground and brand new territory, I felt numb.
The lights hurt. The sun—how dare it—shined brightly. And life, without apology, continued.
Our bodies led us to the hallway, to the elevator, to the parking garage.
As we turned the key in the ignition, the gas light turned on.
Another delay where we would have to literally pretend to do life instead of crumble.
Nate somehow drove to the gas station, got out, and pumped the gas. It felt so cruel.
I wondered if it were possible for our car to grow a sign that read:
Please do not talk to us. And if you do, be kind. Our daughter just died. We do not know what to do now.
And in that instant, I knew I would never ever be able to see what another person was enduring.
In the distance from the hallway, to the elevator, to the garage, to the gas station, to our 34-minute drive home . . . I prayed for grace to get us to a place where we could break, and in the meantime, would it be possible for every other person we encountered, to just be kind.
My prayer continued as the weeks passed. And I took my first trip out of the house alone . . . then, my first trip to the grocery store, to the doctors, to a restaurant.
Every new place seemed unfamiliar in my new form—broken.
Again I prayed others would see my invisible sign that read Please do not talk to me. And if you do, Be kind. My daughter just died. I do not know what to do right now.
And now, every time I walk into the hospital, I am extremely aware that someone else could be taking their first steps into the harsh world with a newly broken heart.
As I browse the aisles of Target I think twice before making remarks about someone’s family size or appearance.
As I pump my gas, I take a deep breath and pray for the invisible signs all around us that no-one can see but we all have.
I have no idea what the person next to me is facing. The only thing I can do to help them is to be kind.